Category Archives: Charity

Music & Wine: Virtual Benefit Concert Sept 9th!

Local winery Three Sticks in partnership with Arrington Vineyards of Tennessee to bring you this Virtual Benefit Concert Experience: For Musicians by Musicians on Sept 9th, 5:30 PST. Hosted by Bill Price, Laurence Hobgood, and Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, this free concert will be an evening of dancing, philanthropy, and of course wine that is not to be missed! REGISTER HERE!

EXTRA BONUS: The Arrington Vineyard KB 11*17 bottles, especially autographed for this event, are on sale now as well as Three Stick’s concert pack. Proceeds benefit Sweet Relief’s COVID-19 Fund to help musicians in need.

Extra-Extra Bonus? Watch CellarPass TV with Arrington Vineyards which aired in April, featuring Sawyer Somm. Stay tuned for more episodes coming this fall, ENJOY!

Positive vibes from the Super Bowl and Miami Food & Wine Culture

Although it’s hard to believe: When Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami came to an end, everyone came out a winner. In the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, their dramatic 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers marked the team’s first Super Bowl win in 50 years. And, despite the disappointing loss to wine country locals, the game also capped off an amazing season for the 49ers: a young, talented team which made the miraculous transformation from a 4-12 record in 2018 to a 13-3 mark this past year, coupled with two convincing wins in the playoffs, which earned them the opportunity to compete for the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy on the 100-year anniversary of the NFL.

Beyond the players, the other big winners were the 49er Faithful, as well fans from the Chief’s Kingdom, and the over 6,000 members of the media attending the game on February 2, who also had special opportunities to explore the fabulous food and wine culture that has blossomed in the greater Miami area since the Niners won their last Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in 1995.

I am happy to say, I have been following the delicious wave of new culinary delights since I began judging the American Fine Wine Competition, which takes place every January at the Chaplin Center for Hospitality, on the campus of Florida International University in North Miami. To make this year more special, I got a taste of what 49er and Chiefs fans could expect with my fellow wine pals Charlie Arturola, Jacqueline Coleman, Peg San Felippo, Roberto Columbia, Wendy Rosano, Stu Nudelman, Henry Escobar and other judges attending the AFWC’s 13th Annual One Thousand Bottles: Sipping Through America, a special gathering held at the Chaplin Center on the FIU campus exactly two weeks before the kick-off of Super Bowl LIV.

In a nutshell: this fabulous event gives consumers, sommeliers, retailers, wine pros, and members of the media a rare opportunity to taste the top wines we judged earlier in the day, while sampling exquisite delicacies prepared by South Florida’s best restaurants and food purveyors, as well as newly released wines being poured by special guests from West Coast wineries. As an extra touch of class, proceeds from the get-together are donated to charity. And since 2007, AFWC has raised more than $1,000,000 for these local charities, including the Miami Dolphinsadmirable collaboration with the Tackle Cancer organization.

Standout bites at this year’s event included: a stunning array of fresh seafood delights from Krudo; a lobster sandwich on top of a purple Peruvian potato from The Blue at the Boca Resort; juicy, tender and smoky morsels from Nature’s Cut Organic & Grass Feed Beef, which raised in Uruguay and imported to Miami; and a very Pinot-friendly mushroom crudité from star Chef Stefano LaCava, who prepared the fantastic judges dinner the night before.

These and more tasty offerings provided by Cvltvra Restaurant, Ortanique, The Crepe Maker, Cooper’s Hawk, Nature’s Cut, Gatsby’s Joint, A Flair For Fudge and El Brazo Fuerte Bakery were also paired with delicious wines poured by our friends from DAOU Family Estates, Trujillo Wines, Hagafen Cellars, Kestrel Vintners, Staura Cellars, A. Torano Family Vineyards, Yount Ridge, Shadowbox Cellars and Bricoleur Vineyards during the event.

As the fun continued, I was able to savor more fine wines with Napa Valley vintners Chris and Shannon Hyde of Hyde Estate, Mike Henry from Acre Wine, FIU-grad Stephanie Honig of Honig Vineyards and Winery, as well as my other great pals Ali Nemo and Andy Du Vigneaud of Bee Hunter Wines of Anderson Valley. All this, while watching the 49ers punch their way to Super Bowl LIV with their convincing NFC Championship victory over the Green Bay Packers, which was broadcast on monitors in the Chaplin Center.

The following day, we judged the final rounds of the competition, which culminated with the sweepstakes round that matched the Best of Class wines in a head-to-head showdown in each category. Here are the big winners at the AFWC 2020:

  • Sparkling Wine: Mumm Napa NV Brut Prestige, Napa Valley
  • White Wine: Castello di Amarosa 2018 Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley
  • Red Wine: Papapietro Perry 2016 Pinot Noir, Pommard Clone, Russian River Valley
  • Sweet Wine: Ferrante 2017 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, Grand River Valley, OH

The full details on all the Double Gold, Gold and Silver medal winners will be listed on the American Fine Wine Competition website soon.  Coming soon, look for my story about two special restaurants I visited during my visit to Miami in mid-January!

Postponed—Wine Wednesday for Sawyer’s 50th & November Schedule Updates

Recent events call for an updated schedule.  There will be NO WINE WEDNESDAY on October 30th, due to the Sebastopol power outage, recent evacuations and ongoing Kincade Fire!

The new date is November 13th (details below), and will additionally support the Sonoma County Resilience Fund, which supports our community’s recovery by helping individuals impacted by the fires, healing the long-term effects of trauma, and creating housing solutions for our community.

So plan to trek on over to Gravenstein Grill in Sebastopol to experience any Wine Wednesday tasting in November!  It is weekly in the Bartlett Bar from 5:30-7pm, and an excellent opportunity to enjoy a free wine tasting with a local wine producer, see schedule below:

November 6Preston Farm & Winery

November 13th: Sommelier Chris Sawyer celebrates his 50th with the GG crew and four special vintners!  Breaking Bread Wines, Kokomo Winery, Radio-Coteau, Bacigalupi Vineyards
Wear a costume, taste some wine and come give cheers to Sawyer Somm!!!

November 20People’s Wine Revolution

8050 Bodega Ave
Sebastopol, California

Pinots & Plaid in SF on October 26th!

Mark your calendar for this First Annual Pinots & Plaid “Best of the Best” Pinot Noir Tasting, featuring 25 leading Pinot Noir producers from Northern California.

Wine lovers, foodies and luxury connoisseurs are invited to enjoy fine wines paired with high end cuisine in the historic, stunningly restored, Hibernia Bank Building, at 1 Jones Street, in San Francisco.
A VIP reception will offer one-on-one conversation with winemakers from 2p.m. to 3 p.m.,  followed by a General Admission reception from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The VIP Lounge Sponsored by San Francisco Magazine & Roederer Estate will feature Sparkling Wine & Caviar and will be open from 3:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. VIP ticket holders and sponsors will enjoy Roederer Estate Sparkling Wines paired with caviar from The Caviar Company in an intimate setting.

Well-known, premium brands including Anthill Farms Winery, Blue Farm, Bucher, CIRQ, Clarice Wine Co., Cobb Wines, Copain Wines, Coursey Graves, Dunstan, Dutton Goldfield, Freeman Vineyard & Winery, Gary Farrell, Hyde Estate, Kutch, Lando, Maggy Hawk, Peay Vineyards, Red Car, Reeve, Roederer Estate, Sangiacomo Vineyards, Sojourn Cellars, Stewart Cellars, Texture Wine, Three Sticks, Williams Selyem and Works & Days will showcase rare wines not typically available to the public.

Featuring rare and newly released wines from The Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley, Sonoma and Napa, the event is expected to draw an audience of approximately 500 guests from around the Bay Area. A portion of ticket sales will benefit two San Francisco charities: Meals on Wheels SF and Mission Graduates. Tickets are available on

Pinot & Plaid Tickets are $185 VIP and $115 General Admission

Sonoma County Wine Auction Raises Record-Breaking $6.1 Million for Local Charities

The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation are excited to announce $6.1 million was raised at the 2019 Sonoma County Wine Auction! Overall, more than $36 million has been raised to date to support charitable organizations focused on education, health and human services, the environment, and arts and culture in Sonoma County.

This charitable gathering was the culmination of a three-day affair that included an exclusive kickoff party on Thursday evening hosted with the Cline Family at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and intimate Friday evening Vintner Dinners throughout Sonoma County and San Francisco.

Four hundred auction guests were welcomed to the grounds of La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard with sunny skies and exceptional Sonoma County wines. Local chefs, including James Beard award-winning Chef Honoree John Ash, prepared an array of decadent bites while guests mingled with non-profit beneficiary organizations.

The 40 auction lots included revered wine collections, luxurious travel excursions, meals prepared by world-class chefs, exclusive experiences with industry and community pillars such as Winemaker Honoree Merry Edwards, Chef Honoree John Ash, Steve Young and Ronnie Lott, as well as rare behind-the-scenes experiences with major sports teams and world-famous musicians Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley.

“I’m truly inspired and grateful to our Honorary Chairs, our wine community and all the auction participants who have demonstrated phenomenal generosity and support for our Foundation,” said Michael Haney, Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Executive Director. “We are thrilled to help support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma – Marin as well as our many other Sonoma County nonprofit organizations with the funds raised.”

Mags for Ag comes to L.A. on August 1st!

After my ethereal Healdsburg unicorn adventure here is another chance to join in the festivities and raise some money with the L.A. crowd!  Mags for Ag at the Petersen Automotive Museum, this Thursday August 1st!

7PM RECEPTION:  Caviar, Wines, Canapés, Hibachi Grill, Cured Meats & Cheese

8PM DINNER:  Keynote Speaker, Multi-Course Feast, Magnums Poured Table-side

9PM SILENT AUCTION:  More Wine, Silent Auction & Dessert Reception with Chefs

Mags for Ag is an intimate culinary experience promising up-close engagements with more than a dozen star winemakers pouring magnums table side and chefs cooking to support an important conversation in agriculture to grow thousands of new farmers each year.  It kicks-off with winemaker reception followed by a keynote speaker, seated dinner and silent-auction filled with wine magnums and experiences to benefit charity.

TICKETS are $249 and include reception, dinner & silent auction +save 15% with the PROMOCODE -wineclub

Chefs and winemakers include Host Chef Sean Dent of Drago, Duskie Estes of Black Pig Meat Co., Joshua Whigham of Lapis and Anthony Sasso together with wine friends at Coursey Graves, Sangiacomo Family Vineyards, Small Vines, Lando Wines, Kreck Wines, Arcadian Winery, Davis Family Vineyards, Acorn Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Rocca Family Vineyards and Phifer Pavitt.

High on the Hogs 2019 at EPIC Steak this Sunday June 23

Join me this Sunday June 23rd, from 1-4pm, at EPIC‘s annual pig & pinot festival benefitting Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Epic Steak, 369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

 

Petaluma Gap’s Battle of the Sexes Takes to the Airwaves

This just in from the Petaluma Gap!  Continuing a tradition started at last year’s Sonoma County Barrel Auction, a men’s and a women’s winemaker teams from the Petaluma Gap American Viticultural Area (AVA) will compete to create the most coveted and unique lot of Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir that expresses the distinct terroir of Sonoma County’s newest AVA.

Dueling Winemakers
Erica Stancliff & Tom Gendall
go on KSRO’s Vintners Vibe, April 11

Representing the women are Erica Stancliff (Trombetta Family Wines), Kerith Overstreet (Bruliam Wines) and Ana Keller (Keller Estate) with a ten-case auction lot called “Aura,” named after the Goddess of the Wind. The men’s lot, called “Zephyros,” the name of the God of the West Wind, is a collaboration from Tom Gendall (Cline Family Cellars), Evan Pontoriero (Fogline Vineyards), Justin Seidenfeld (Rodney Strong) and Shane Finley (Thirty-Seven Wines).

The women’s team outperformed the men at last year’s auction with their lot selling for $14,000 while the men’s lot raised $9,000, but the men have declared themselves ready for a rematch. “I will let the wine speak for itself,” says Gendall confidently. “The wines were all stunning and the final blend really shone through as the best expression from all four sites. Beautiful, delicate aromatics with bright red fruits, great structure and mouth-watering acidity on a very long finish with well-integrated spice and savoriness. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime wine, and we are very excited to show it off.”

Hear what Erica Stancliff has to say about the women’s blend and the distinct vineyards it’s sourced from when she and Tom Gendall meet on KSRO’s Vintners Vibe talk show on Thursday, April 11 at 4:30 PM, 1350 AM | 103.5 FM radio. Six individual wineries are also offering up “Never Before, Never Again” Pinot Noir wines from the Petaluma Gap including Cline Family Cellars, Guarachi Family Wines, Fulcrum Wines, Keller Estate, Schermeister Winery and Sojourn Cellars. Interested trade buyers can taste all the wines at a preview event at Grand Cru Custom Crush on May 2.

The Fifth Annual Sonoma County Barrel Auction, presented by Sonoma County Vintners, will auction off to trade buyers more than eighty lots of “Never Before, Never Again” wines from diverse Sonoma County regions on May 3, 2019 at MacMurray Estate Vineyards.

Dec 18th Dine&Donate at Gravenstein Grill!

Bring your big hearts and voracious appetites to help raise money for Ruby the Warrior Princess!  A brave little girl diagnosed last November with B-cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL).

Please join the Sebastopol and greater Sonoma Couunty communities at Gravenstein Grill (8050 Bodega Avenue, Sebastopol) on December 18th from 5-8pm in support of her family and medical care, or just make a donation directly at her Fundraiser Page.

Thanks for sharing your holiday spirit!

Cheers, Christopher

FEASTstock featuring mini-Somm Sessions on October 20th!

Announcing the Inaugural Oxbow District FEASTstock Festival, presented by Feast it Forward and Oxbow Public Market:  Here is a chance to get your Somm Session sampling with me and guest winemakers throughout the day in a fun interactive setting!

McKinstry Street and Oxbow Annex parking lot will be closed to create a neighborly and family friendly FREE block party.  Come out and play with us for a day filled with wine, craft brew, grub from Oxbow District merchants, kids zone and much more alongside #FEASTstudio playing host as Napa’s Own, Johnny Smith & Friends, Dgiin, Quinn DeVeaux Band and Justin Schaefers & the Blind Barbers jam on stage from 11a-8:30pm.

Presented by Feast it Forward and Oxbow Public Market to RAISE awareness and funds for Community Action of Napa Valley Food Bank!